Za’s Lakefront Welcomes Guests to Dine in the Sunshine
Za’s Lakefront in Tahoe City is among the many local family-favorite eateries impacted by Coronavirus. They had seen great business in February 2020 and were on track for a record March before social distance precautions were put into place, forcing businesses in our tourist destination to close the same weekend we received highly anticipated snowfall.
“We got all that brand-new snow and they closed the resorts on Saturday,” owner Johnny Roscher recalled.
He said for some reason he foresaw his business potentially closing and applied for a line of credit with his bank early, just in case.
Following the statewide closure order, Za’s reconfigured operations, streamlined cleaning and distance measures and reopened to the public for to-go orders only on March 17. During suspended operations, the team initiated a pay-it-forward campaign, Free Pizza Friday, and was able to feed people who needed help through generous donations made by community members.
“We wanted to see how it would go for a week or so, to see if people were going to come out. It ended up being really nice. I was able to keep 10 or 12 employees working and actually, I have to say that we did very well with the to-go orders and people were really appreciative of being able to come and get food,” Roscher said.
The business was heavily impacted as reservations for its event space were cancelled from March through June. But upon reopening, Roscher said his biggest immediate challenges were unexpected - things like finding to-go containers and silverware, toilet paper hand sanitizer - because they were in such high demand.
Roscher heard about the Resilience Fund from a friend and applied online. Since he had all of his documents readily available from applying for a line of credit through the bank, the Resilience Fund application process was pretty easy.
“I think [the Resilience Fund] is a great avenue. You’re not having to pay a big amount off and it’s definitely a way to avoid the banks because they’re horrible,” he added.
Offering to-go orders to the community brought a sense of familiarity to an otherwise uncomfortable situation for locals. Although they’re seating 50% less tables than before the pandemic, between their indoor and outdoor seating areas, they’re seeing decent daily visits.
“We’ve done well, the locals have been just so generous, you know. They’ve been coming to eat, helping with tips to help out the staff. I got lucky that I heard about [the Resilience Fund] and applied online, every little bit helps,” he said.
Roscher’s mixer was nearly 50 years old and his goal before the pandemic was to replace it this summer with a new model to make bread and pizza dough. His Resilience Fund loan helped him stay on top of his bills during limited operations and meet his goal - getting the new mixer.
“The thing is, back in March I wasn’t looking to have to borrow any money at all, so you get thrown into this situation where it’s like, wow, what do I have to do to make my business survive?”
Za’s Lakefront is open every day from 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. They offer a full lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., pizza, salad and wings from 3-5 p.m. and the full dinner menu for dine-in, takeout and curbside service from 5-9 p.m.
“We stick together as a community here in North Lake Tahoe. That’s why I’ve been here for 40 years, because I love this place,” Roscher said.
Head to Za’s Lakefront for your lunch and dinner favorites, they’re serving up the works: appetizers, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, pasta dishes and large plates, set to the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Tahoe.